Best Split Pin Crafts To Try With Your Kids

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The best arts and crafts often use the simplest materials - and split pins are a perfect example.

Make puppets, paper characters, shadow puppets and Jumping Jacks using just paper and some split pins. Follow our list of split pin craft ideas - or use the list as inspiration, and come up with your own DIY designs for puppets, dolls and other split pin crafts and activities.

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Learn the Basics to Make Any Split Pin Character

Follow this brilliant video tutorial from Alexa Van Maanen, as she explains the basic technique behind making articulated paper puppets - using any design you wish!

Build Your Own Split Pin Clock

A brilliant way to help kids learn to tell the time, why not craft a clock from paper - complete with moving hands - to practice telling the time with?

What You'll Need:

Paper plate, or a circle of card

Two paper arrows - one large, one small

Pens

Split pins

Scissors

Instructions:

Using the pens, add the numbers around the edge of the clock face. Construct the clock using the split pins to attach the two hands to the centre of the clock face, and then challenge your young ones to tell the time... You could also have fun decorating this homemade clock, so get creative with your craft supplies, and see what you can make.

The Old-Fashioned Jumping Jack

Delight kids with this old-fashioned Jumping Jack toy. Simply hold the character by his hat, and pull the string to make Jack jump up and down. Create your own character, or use the traditional design of a template from the V&A Museum in London.

What You'll Need:

Printer

Card

Glue

Scissors

Split Pins

Colouring pens/pencils

Blu-tac

String

Instructions:

Print the template, before glueing it onto a sheet of card. Using pens or pencils, colour in the pieces and then cut them out. Make holes in the template at the marked points, using a sharp pencil - with a blob of blu-tac behind. Attach the two arms together using a short length of string, and then the two legs, before using the split pins to assemble the Jumping Jack. Once assembled, attach a single, long piece of string that connects the arms and legs - then pull the string and watch the Jumping Jack's arms and legs dance.

The Gruffalo Jumping Jack

Use the same technique as above to create a Jumping Jack figure of The Gruffalo. If you don't have a printer, you could always trace around a character from your kids favourite book, or make your own DIY Jumping Jack by drawing a new character.

What You'll Need:

Printer

Card

Glue

Scissors

Split Pins

Colouring pens/pencils

Blu-tac

String

Life-Cycle Spinning Wheels

Life-cycle spinning wheels are a great way to explain how different animals, plants and processes change over time. This craft activity uses simple materials to explain complicated scientific processes, and the concept of a life-cycle - and it can be adapted to suit your child's interests or age range. Follow the instructions below to make a butterfly life-cycle wheel, but remember that you can make a life-cycle wheel for almost anything that has a life cycle, including animals, plants and even how day turns into night.

What You'll Need:

2 circles of card or cardboard - one smaller than the other

Scissors

Split pins

Colouring pencils and pens

Instructions:

On the large circle, draw the various stages of the life cycle in a circular shape. For a butterfly, this would be from egg to Caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly; for a plant, this could be from seed to germination, to roots, to leaves; for a ladybird, it would be from eggs to larvae, to pupa, to a young ladybird, to the red-and-black spotted adult ladybird.

Cut a window into your the smaller circle - in a wedge or fan shape - making sure this window is big enough to reveal one drawing at a time on the larger circle beneath it. Don't cut into the centre of the smaller circle, as this is where the split pin will go. Make a hole in the centre of the two-card circles, and attach them together using a split pin, then turn the top circle to reveal each stage of the cycle.

Flying Birds of Paradise

What You'll Need:

  • Paper plate
  • Piece of card
  • Split pins
  • Paint and brushes
  • String or thread
  • Sticky Tape

Instructions:

Cut the paper plate into quarters - two of these will become the bird's wings. Cut a 'body' from the piece of card - this can be any shape or design you like, though for a basic 'bird' shape, draw a bowling pin or a simple fish shape. Mark where the holes should go on the body, then make marks that correspond with these on the wings.

Make the bird unique by painting and decorating the body and wings - you can get really creative here, using all your favourite art and craft techniques, like potato stamps or marbling. Search for pictures of amazing, exotic birds, and use the photos as inspiration - or let the kids go wild, and see what they create.

Once dry, cut out the bird shape, and punch holes in the body and wings (using a sharp pencil and blu-tac, or a hole punch) - making two extra holes, in the pointed corner of each wing.  Assemble the bird with the split pins, keeping them loose so that the wings can still move. On the back of the bird, knot string between the wings, (through the two extra holes that you made), then take a longer piece of string, and tie it on to the middle of the short string.

Tape a loop of string to the back of the bird's head, and then pull the long, dangling string to make the birds beautiful wings flap.

Templates for Quick and Easy Split Pin Characters

What You'll Need:

Printer

Scissors

Split pins

Colouring pens and pencils

Instructions:

Choose and print your template - use the blank template if your child wants to colour in the character themselves, or print the full-colour template if you want to quickly cut and assemble the character. Cut out the individual pieces, and following the markings on the template, push the split pins through the paper to connect the pieces into a moving toy. There are lots of animals and characters to choose from - including a turtle, a cow, a kangaroo, a robot, a royal guard and plenty of others, so there's something for everyone.

Rosanna Robertson
Godmother to two little girls

Godmother to two little girls, Rosanna enjoys finding ways to entertain her goddaughters with games, cooking and – best of all - arts and crafts. Having studied Fine Art, Rosanna uses her creativity to make colourful, fun and educational art and craft projects that are perfect for kids of all ages. Full of ideas for homemade cards and handcrafted gifts, toys and decorations – Rosanna also has a knack for finding child-friendly cultural activities and fun places for kids to blow off steam.